The NHL’s new East division might be the toughest in the league. There are six teams with a reasonable chance to win it, including the Flyers.

But four teams from this group will not be invited to the postseason, and the Flyers have a chance to be on that list, too. The margin between playoffs and golf season will be thin.

Alain Vigneault’s boys did an admirable job in the second half of last season of not losing consecutive games, a trait that would serve them very well to repeat in this format.

With eight games against each of their seven divisional opponents, a short memory is critical. Losing streaks could be murder since every game is practically worth four points — two for you or two for your opponent.

With the unique season finally at hand, here is a quick look at the Flyers opponents.

Boston

  • The “Perfection Line” — maybe the best in hockey recently — will start off with some blemishes. David Pastrnak, who tied with Alex Ovechkin with a league-leading 48 goals, will miss the start of the season after having shoulder and hip surgery. Linemate Brad Marchand said he waited two years too long to get his sports hernia repaired, but expects to be ready at or near the start of the season.
  • Patrice Bergeron, the center on that line who finished second to Sean Couturier in Selke Award voting, is the new captain, replacing defenseman Zdeno Chara, who is now with Washington. Bergeron, 35, is entering his 17th season with the Bruins. He made his debut with Boston in 2003, about a year BEFORE Charlie Manuel became the Phillies manager.
  • Four of the Flyers’ eight games against the Bruins are within the first month.
  • Boston also must replace Torey Krug (St. Louis), who had been on their back end the last seven years. Prospect Urho Vaakanainen, a 2017 first-round pick who helped Finland win the World Junior Championship two years ago, is among the defensemen vying for ice time.
  • Goalie Tuukka Rask, who left the Toronto bubble in August to be with his ill daughter, is 6-0-2 in his last eight starts against the Flyers (dating back to 2016) with a 1.60 goals against and a .947 save percentage.
Schedule vs. Boston
Thursday, Jan. 21
at Boston, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 23
at Boston, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 3
at WFC, 8 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 5
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 21
vs. Boston (tentatively at Lake Tahoe), 3 p.m.
Sunday, March 7
at Boston, 7 p.m.
Monday, April 5
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 6
at WFC, 7 p.m.

Buffalo

  • The Sabres have the longest active playoff drought at nine years and are one away from matching the NHL record. Jack Eichel, who has been with Buffalo for five years, said he is feeling juiced after watching the city’s football team win the AFC East for the first time in 25 years.
  • Buffalo missed last year’s postseason by less than one percentage point, but that was when there were 12 qualifiers. Getting to the playoffs this year would get Ralph Krueger some coach of the year consideration.
  • Taylor Hall, the league’s top free agent who is on a 1-year, $8 million deal, will skate on the top line alongside Eichel, who is coming off a career-best 36 goals (in just 68 games).
  • Krueger on 36-year-old center Eric Staal, who was acquired in a trade from Minnesota: “You can feel he wants something to happen here and he believes something’s gonna happen here, and he wants to be a part of it. You don’t feel the age at all in his spirit, and that’s important.”
  • The Sabres will need more from Jeff Skinner, who had just 23 points in 59 games last year after signing an 8-year, $72 million contract in June of 2019.

» READ MORE: At least the Flyers don’t have to leave the time zone, and other schedule insights

Schedule vs. Buffalo
Monday, Jan. 18
at WFC, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 19
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 26
at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 28
at Buffalo, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, March 9
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 29
at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 30
at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 11
at WFC, 2 p.m.

New Jersey

  • The Devils and Sabres are the only teams in this division who did not make the postseason last year and thus have never played a game in an empty arena.
  • Jack Hughes, the No. 1 pick in 2019, added 14 pounds as he continues to grow into his 5-11 frame. He had 21 points in 61 games last year. Can he double that in 56 games this season?
  • Mark Recchi is among the assistants on new head coach Lindy Ruff’s staff.
Money Men
Each team’s highest-paid players for 2020-21
Boston
Charlie Coyle, $8M; David Krejci, $7M
Buffalo
Jack Eichel, $10M; Jeff Skinner, $10M, Taylor Hall, $8M
New Jersey
P.K. Subban, $8M; Nico Hischler, $7M
N.Y. Islanders
Nick Leddy, $6.5M
N.Y. Rangers
Artemi Panarin, $13M; Chris Krieder, $10M; Jacob Trouba, $10M;
Flyers
Kevin Hayes, $7.5M, Claude Giroux, $7.2M; James van Riemsdyk, $7M; Jake Voracek, $6.25M
Pittsburgh
Sidney Crosby, $9.6M; Evgeni Malkin, $9.5M; Kris Letang, $7.25M
Washington
Nicklas Backstrom, $12M; Alex Ovechkin, $10M; John Carlson, $8M
Source: CapFriendly.com. Minimum $6M salary for this season.
  • The Devils started 0-4-2 last season and never got to .500. Fourteen of their first 16 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season.
  • “We’re ready to get off to a good start and prove some people wrong, maybe surprise some people,” said veteran Travis Zajac, who is nine away from 1,000 career games.
Schedule vs. New Jersey
Tuesday, Jan. 26
at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 28
at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 11
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 13
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 23
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 20
at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 29
at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 1
at WFC, 7 p.m.

N.Y, Islanders

  • Mathew Barzal, who had 17 points in 22 games during last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals, signed a three-year bridge deal for $21 million. He’ll get $4m, $7m and $10m respectively over the next three years.
  • Defenseman Johnny Boychuk retired because of an eye injury, but the top Islanders forwards are back, something coach Barry Trotz says will be an advantage given the condensed training camp. “It gives us a starting base where other teams may have a lot of different personnel,” Trotz said. “They’re putting essentially new lines together. I don’t have to do that to start.”
  • Goalie Semyon Varlamov, who had his struggles against the Flyers in last year’s postseason, is back. But Thomas Greiss, who shut the Flyers out in Game 7, is now with Detroit.
  • Rookie Ilya Sorokin, a star in the KHL the last several years, will share the job with Varlamov. Sorokin was a reserve for the 2018 Russian Athletes Olympic gold-medal club.
  • The year before Trotz arrived as head coach team captain Anders Lee had a career-high 40 goals and was a career-low -25. In two years under Trotz, he has 48 goals and is +28.
Schedule vs. N.Y. Islanders
Saturday, Jan. 30
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 31
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 18
at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 20
at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 3
at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 8
at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 18
at WFC, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 25
at WFC, 6 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers

  • The Rangers shot up from 23rd in the league in scoring to fifth last season. Even in the shortened season, Artemi Panarin finished with career highs across the board and was third in the MVP voting. He had four assists in three games last season against the Flyers, but was a -4.
  • Look for Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev to split the goaltending job now that the BlueShirts have moved on from Henrik Lundqvist. Shesterkin played 12 games last year, none against the Flyers. Georgiev, entering his third full season, is 1-3 against Philadelphia.
The truncated season will make it impossible for Alexis Lafreniere to challenge the record for most points by a player in his 19-year-old season. Wayne Gretzky, 137 in 1979-80, holds the mark. Sidney Crosby, Jimmy Carson and Mario Lemieux are the only other 19-year-olds to hit 100. Jimmy Carson?
Ryan Remiorz / AP
The truncated season will make it impossible for Alexis Lafreniere to challenge the record for most points by a player in his 19-year-old season. Wayne Gretzky, 137 in 1979-80, holds the mark. Sidney Crosby, Jimmy Carson and Mario Lemieux are the only other 19-year-olds to hit 100. Jimmy Carson?
  • Lundqvist, a Rangers’ fixture for 15 years and the club’s all-time leader in wins, signed with Washington, but will miss the season with a heart ailment.
  • The Rangers have two leading candidates for rookie of the year in Shesterkin and Alexis Lafraniere, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick. Lafreniere (6-1, 193) was lauded by Rangers veteran Chris Kreider for his competitiveness and for his difficulty to move off the puck.
  • Julien Gauthier (53 goals in 119 AHL games the last two years) is another Rangers’ rookie to watch. This team could be a problem for the next 10 years.
Schedule vs. N.Y. Rangers
Tuesday, Feb. 16
at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 18
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 24
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 15
at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 17
at N.Y. Rangers, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 25
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 27
at WFC, 1 p.m.
Friday, April 23
at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m.

Pittsburgh

  • Licking their wounds after being eliminated by Montreal in four games in the qualifying round of bubble play. The Penguins have lost nine of their last 10 playoff games dating to 2018.
  • Kaspari Kapanen will miss the start of the season because of problems with his work visa. The Finnish winger had been expected to skate on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. Pittsburgh opens in Philadelphia Wednesday and Friday.
  • Kapanen was acquired in August from Toronto for Evan Rodrigues, a restricted fee agent who wound up signing back with the Penguins when he couldn’t agree to a deal with the Leafs. Rodrigues had been skating in Kapanen’s place on the Crosby line during camp.
  • Guentzel, who severely injured his shoulder last season a few days after getting his first All-Star nod, has 11 points in 11 career regular-season games against the Flyers. Crosby, of course, has 105 points in 70 against the Flyers. Whew.
  • The Penguins are hoping the return of assistant coach Todd Reirden can jumpstart the power-play, which was a lackluster 16th last season. It was 2 for 8 in in three games against the Flyers.
Schedule vs. Pittsburgh
Wednesday, Jan. 13
at WFC, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 15
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 2
at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 4
at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 13
at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Thursday, April 15
at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Monday, May 3
at WFC, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 4
at WFC, 7 p.m.

Washington

  • The addition of Zdeno Chara, 43, makes the Capitals the oldest team in the NHL. They also added Henrik Lundqvist, but he’ll miss the season with a heart ailment. If this was 2011 they’d be building a dynasty.
  • Old friend Peter Laviolette is the Capitals’ new coach. He has a legitimate chance to become the first coach in history to take his fourth different franchise to the Stanley Cup finals. Only he, Scotty Bowman, Dick Irvin and Mike Keenan have taken three teams.